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Minnesota Cup has grown into largest state contest for emerging business ideas

A crowd of several hundred filled the McNamara Alumni Center
MinnPost photo by John Reinan
A crowd of several hundred filled the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota.

In its ninth year, the Minnesota Cup has grown into the nation’s largest statewide competition for emerging business ideas.

This year’s contest attracted more than 1,100 entries; the finalists in each of the six categories each received a $25,000 prize. The grand prize of $40,000 went to Preceptis Medical for an innovation in pediatric ear-tube insertion that the company says could save up to $3 billion annually.

Companies that advance to the higher levels of the competition also receive extensive mentoring and feedback on their ideas from judging panels of Minnesota business leaders.

It’s a great event that I’ve been a fan of since the beginning. Thanks to Minnesota Cup co-creators Scott Litman and Dan Mallin, as well as major sponsors the University of Minnesota, Wells Fargo, General Mills, UnitedHealth Group, Digital River and the Carlson Family Foundation.

Much more information on the winning ideas follows in the photos below. show.

Dave Roeser of Garden Fresh Farms, center, winner in the Energy/Clean Tech category

MinnPost photo by John ReinanDave Roeser of Garden Fresh Farms, center, winner in the Energy/Clean Tech category. Garden Fresh created a system for large-scale, indoor urban farming that uses 90 percent less water than an irrigated farm field and can grow as many crops in 1 acre as a traditional farmer can grow on 100 acres.

 

Emcee Rick Kupchella
MinnPost photo by John ReinanEmcee Rick Kupchella

 

Matt Hardy of KidBlog
MinnPost photo by John ReinanMatt Hardy of KidBlog, center, winner in the General category. As a fourth-grade teacher, Hardy saw the need for a safe, secure digital publishing platform for students. Now KidBlog has more than 3.5 million users.

 

Steve Anderson of Preceptis Medical
MinnPost photo by John ReinanSteve Anderson of Preceptis Medical, right, winner of the Life Science/Health IT category and grand prize Minnesota Cup winner. Preceptis developed a tool for inserting ear tubes in children quickly and without general anesthesia. With 1.3 million operations a year, ear tube insertion is the most common pediatric surgery. By eliminating general anesthesia, Preceptis claims its process will save $3 billion a year.

 

Jim Gehrke of the Minnesota Valley Action Council
MinnPost photo by John ReinanJim Gehrke of the Minnesota Valley Action Council, winner of the Social Entrepreneur category. Most of the food we eat travels more than 1,500 miles, even though it could be supplied within 50 miles. The MVAC set up a food hub in Mankato that allows small farmers to aggregate enough demand to successfully sell their products.

 

Chad Halverson of When I Work
MinnPost photo by John ReinanChad Halverson of When I Work, winner in the High Tech category. Halverson's own experience working in a grocery store inspired him to create an app that allows easy scheduling of hourly workers over mobile devices. More than 2,000 businesses use the service, including Dunn Bros, Culver's, Subway and Papa John's.

 

Nathan Conner, center, winner of the Student category
MinnPost photo by John ReinanNathan Conner, center, winner of the Student category. Conner created ShedBed, an electronically activated pet bed that creates an attraction for hair and dander. It's claimed to reduce loose shed hair and dander by 80 percent. Conner won an additional $1,000 cash prize as the favorite finalist in a live audience vote at the ceremony.

 

Emcee Rick Kupchella's fabulous shoes
MinnPost photo by John ReinanEmcee Rick Kupchella's fabulous shoes

 

Grand prize winner Steve Anderson with presenters Carolyn and Dave Cleveland
MinnPost photo by John ReinanGrand prize winner Steve Anderson with presenters Carolyn and Dave Cleveland.

 

Minnesota Cup co-founders Dan Mallin, left, and Scott Litman, right, with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie
MinnPost photo by John ReinanMinnesota Cup co-founders Dan Mallin, left, and Scott Litman, right, with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

 

Greg Frankenfield, founder of Magenic Technologies
MinnPost photo by John ReinanGreg Frankenfield, founder of Magenic Technologies, was honored as University of Minnesota Entrepreneur of the Year.

 

Dr. Sri Zaheer, dean of the Carlson School of Management; John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship;  Judy Corson, chair of the Holmes Center Advisory Board
MinnPost photo by John ReinanLeft to right: Dr. Sri Zaheer, dean of the Carlson School of Management; John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship;  Judy Corson, chair of the Holmes Center Advisory Board.

 

Jennifer Nelson Weismann, left, and Beverly Anglum
MinnPost photo by John ReinanJennifer Nelson Weismann, left, and Beverly Anglum.

 

Steve Anderson and Wally Wilsey
MinnPost photo by John ReinanSteve Anderson and Wally Wilsey.

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